Endorsements: Not Mattering

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 21 2011 5:10 PM

Endorsements: Not Mattering

Over at The Fix, Aaron Blake tells me to gird for six Republican endorsements that could make the 2012 race. These are "the bigger endorsements — the sort that can say something broader about a candidate and genuinely help him or her over the long haul." DeMint! (Okay.) Rubio! (Sure.) Daniels (How's his book doing? Neilsen Bookscan tells me it's sold 8000 copies.)

Should I really be expecting so much from an endorsement? I remember the last time somebody swung hard and backed a 2012er. It was when Chris Christie endorsed Mitt Romney, back on October 11. The Fix told me it would matter.

Christie endorsing Romney is a “symbolic endorsement”, the most important and powerful measure of support in the Fix endorsement hierarchy... Romney will — if he hasn’t already — use Christie’s endorsement as an enticement to other governors and senators (not to mention major donors) who have been on the fence about getting behind the former Massachusetts governor so far in the race. (You can imagine the phone calls: “Look, Christie is with me. We need to unify and focus on Obama as soon as possible.”)
Add to that the fact that polling nationally and in New Hampshire suggests Romney is solidifying his frontrunner status and the Christie endorsement couldn’t come at a better time. If Romney performs well in tonight’s debate, the storyline for the rest of the week — at least — will be how the wagons are circling behind the former Massachusetts governor.

That endorsement mattered. Romney went from the mid-twenties in national polls to... the mid-twenties in national polls. In Iowa, he went from the low twenties to the low twenties. In New Hampshire, he went from a twenty-point lead to a twenty-point lead. All the stuff about money and insider loyalty is true, but the Christie endorsement has done nothing yet to rally the sort of voters who wanted Christie to run.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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